This is Brave

I laid my wailing 4-month-old down on his play mat as I scrambled into the kitchen to make my oldest a sandwich while he melted down on our kitchen floor. Tears, so many tears. “I can’t do this” I told myself over and over again. I just wanted silence. It wasn’t just the tears, and the hormones, and the busyness of my toddler. It wasn’t just that I was back to work at 4 months postpartum, juggling a second new small business I wasn’t passionate about and struggling to ask for help. It wasn’t just that I felt like my husband wasn’t understanding what I was feeling, or feeling as if I couldn’t open up to anyone else about how I was really feeling. No… it wasn’t just one thing, but all of them combined threw me into a whirlwind of PPD and PPA after my second son was born. I feared judgment. I feared the need to fix from others. I feared what people would think and say. I had never felt so alone; not only alone with all the tasks and how to juggle them, but also alone with the feelings and thoughts I was dealing with.

Postpartum depression and anxiety didn’t hit me right away. It reared its head when my second son was nearly 3 months old. I was warned of it with my first son but only in fragments. Went it hit, I struggled to talk about it with anyone other than my husband. Almost daily I would cry that I felt misunderstood. At 6 months PP I talked to my doctor but found little relief. For another 6 months I felt like my emotions were too much and I struggled with intrusive anxious thoughts that I felt would only be misunderstood by anyone on the outside. I couldn’t drive my car without picturing a devastating car accident, nor stay at home without locking all the doors and purchasing bear spray just in case. Suddenly I was terrified of someone attacking me as I put my babies in the car, or the stove being left on. Everything was overwhelming. Whether it was irrational fear, hyper vigilance, numbing sadness, or overwhelming irritability… I felt bound to emotions that I struggled to talk about for fear I would be judged.

During this time, I remember reading an article of a local mom who had passed away allegedly due to her struggle with PPD. It was devastating, but to be very honest, a part of me felt like I could relate to the parts shared publicly by her husband. As I listened to her husband speak openly about the pressures of breastfeeding and the emotional toll a new baby had on his wife, I wept. I wanted so badly to just tell her, me too. You are not alone.

A year after I had started my second small business and my second son was almost one and a half, my depression and anxiety decreased and I came to the conclusion that I needed to give up my second business for my well being. I had new bigger dream, one that came out of my own dark days. I wanted to ensure that woman struggling with PPD And PPA felt like they had a place to connect, speak up themselves, and simply have a place to read stories and know they were not alone (or crazy!). The logistics as to how I wanted it to look, came together nearly over night. I had a handful of amazing woman who were open with their struggles and were willing to help my little dream of building a community of vulnerability and openness become a reality. That is how This Is Brave blog was born.

As I started to share my passion for this project and share stories of brave woman who had struggled with PPD and PPA the community quickly grew and more and more woman started to reach out to share their story! What started out small, was growing. I had always hoped to share more stories not just from mothers but from grandmothers, aunts, children, cousins, and wives. Email after email of stories of beating cancer, losing a child, miscarriages and infertility, anxiety, eating disorders, depression and special needs kept popping up in my inbox. So many incredible woman sharing their stories of brave times of life. Journeys that were uniquely theirs but that also brought a sense of connection to others who may have or do share a similar walk. All of it bringing us a bit closer to each other, a bit more understanding, and a bit less alone.

This is Brave is this place. We have shared over 50 stories on our blog and I get messages weekly of woman who have been touched and impacted by these stories. They read them, they share them, and hopefully through it all, they make us stronger and help us feel braver than we did yesterday.

You are not alone.